USC vs. Arizona Pick – February 23rd

We notched a winner last night with Pitt holding on for the cover at Wake Forest, despite blowing a huge first half lead and collapsing down the stretch.  The result keeps Wake alive but probably ended Pitt’s long-shot dreams of a remarkable comeback to bubble status, but with the crazy love being shown to the ACC in most mock brackets, it’s hard to officially count anyone out for another few days (Pitt and Clemson are still in most people’s “first” or “second” four OUT despite 10 conference losses).

Elsewhere, the Duke ban proved wise once again as the Blue Devils saw their win streak end in wild, wild fashion at the Carrier Dome.  Sure, it took a few accidental bank shots, including the buzzer-beating game winner, but the Cuse got a MASSIVE win which should help stamp their passport for March.

And speaking of buzzer beaters, Dillon Brooks did it again, from almost the identical spot on the floor, in nearly identical late comeback fashion to win another Pac-12 game.  This time the victim was further north in California, at Berkley.  I’m not sure he can get all the way to the front of the pack, but it Dillon Brooks DOES sneak in an win National Player of the Year, he has two MONEY highlight game-winners to thank.

Lastly, a rarity occurred last night – a HOME conference loss for Villanova.  Butler went into Philly and left with one of the most impressive results of the season, a 74-66 win over Villanova to complete the season sweep of the defending champs.  Butler  is going to be an interesting team to seed.  They have six losses including St. John’s, Indiana State and Providence, as well as a home loss to Georgetown.  Yet they have wins over Northwestern, Arizona, Cincinnati, @Utah, Indiana (pre-collapse), Xavier, @Marquette, @Seton Hall and a sweep of Nova.  Don’t be surprised if the Bulldogs seed far exceed what their #22 ranking indicates.  That is the resume of a #4 seed at worst.

Let’s keep it rolling with another winner tonight.

Today’s College Basketball Pick:

USC Trojans at Arizona Wildcats -8

There’s a reason why looking at team records can be dangerous this time of the season.  USC is a seemingly-impressive 21-6 and they play in one of the best conferences in the country.  This is a SERIOUS team with lofty March aspirations, right?

Well.  No.

They may harbor some lofty aspirations, but their resume tells me they are Fool’s Gold.  They are just 8-6 in conference and in their three road games against Tourney-caliber teams, they have gotten straight up SMOKED.  They lost by 23 at Oregon, 22 at Utah and, most recently by 32 at UCLA.  Tonight they go on the road to face an Arizona team that has only dropped three games ALL SEASON, and ONE when they have at least four of their five starters healthy – as they will once again tonight.

Kadeem Allen is back.  SO is Dustin Ristic, and I expect the Cats to maul the Trojans tonight.

FOR the sake of fair and balanced reporting, there IS a statistical trend worth noting that goes AGAINST Arizona – they are 0-6-1 ATS at home this season in conference play.  That’s pretty significant, and a fair reason to stay off this game if you trust numbers implicitly.  I LIKE numbers, and in many cases, LOVE them, but I prefer “Who’d you play, Where’d you play, HOW did you play” and for USC, the answer against every high-quality opponent has been, “terribly.”

And it isn’t like Arizona is LOSING games.  They just aren’t covering very large point spreads.  They beat Utah by 10, Colorado by 11, Arizona St. by 16, Wazzou by 17, Washington by 11 and a good Cal team by 5.  Those aren’t “bad” performances, regardless of how their ATS record appears.

Anyhow – that’s my logic.  I’m comfortable with Arizona tonight and, aside from that 0-6-1 number, think this one is a clear edge to the home Cats against the paper-tiger Trojans.  They are 21-6 but got blown out by every good conference team on the road and their “best’ wins this season aside from the home win over UCLA are BYU or SMU.  The resume is shockingly bare for a 21-6 team in a major power league.

Today’s Pick:  Arizona Wildcats -8